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People Like Me initiative supports individuals living with chronic conditions with exercise, education and relaxation

New 12-week program for those living with arthritis or Parkinson’s disease developed at Concordia’s PERFORM Centre
July 10, 2018

Support is on the way for individuals living with chronic conditions, thanks to a new initiative developed at Concordia’s PERFORM Centre.

People Like Me is a 12-week comprehensive group wellness program aimed at helping individuals with arthritis or Parkinson’s disease. Participants learn how to better manage their condition through exercise, education and relaxation in a caring and nurturing environment.

Amanda Rizk, supervisor of PERFORM's Cardio-Pulmonary Suite and creator of People Like Me, designed the program as a way for participants to learn how to exercise safely and effectively for their condition.

“The program is tailored to each person based on an initial fitness assessment performed by a certified exercise physiologist,” says Rizk, adding that the program includes three monthly phone call follow-ups after its completion.

Before coming to PERFORM, Rizk worked in cardiac rehabilitation at the West Island Cardiac Wellness Program. She was also involved in research at l’Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal relating to individuals with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD).

Now, along with PERFORM’s team of qualified exercise professionals, Rizk plans to use evidence-based approaches to improve knowledge and self-confidence among people with chronic illnesses. She also aims to expand People Like Me to include programs for other chronic conditions.

"We plan on having a new People Like Me program for those dealing with heart conditions in the fall of 2018,” Rizk says.

A peek into the programs

The Arthritis Program is open to people with any kind of arthritis, including Osteoarthritis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, Spondyloarthritis and Inflammatory Arthritis. Individuals learn how to recognize inflammatory states and how to stay active during these times by modifying their activities according to how they feel.

The Parkinson’s Program helps participants improve aerobic capacity, gait, balance and coordination with the hope of slowing down the progression of their disease in order to maintain their independence and quality of life.

Both programs include supervised group exercise classes, including cardio, strength, range of motion, stretching, and relaxation, as well as a final assessment to review changes over the 12 weeks.

In addition, athletic and aqua therapy, additional gym training appointments, and gym membership services are available for continual post-program support.

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